Why are Justice Department facilitators needed in Ft. Morgan, CO?

Off and on for almost two years I’ve been reporting on Ft. Morgan, CO, another of those meatpacking towns flooded with Somali workers.  This town, or at least its newspaper, has been working really hard to show how welcoming Ft. Morgan is to the African influx.  As a matter of fact, I noted this editorial in September of 2008 in which the editor of the Ft. Morgan Times seems to be pointing a finger of criticism at us—RRW—while professing that everything was just great in Ft. Morgan! 

Now I see that although the entire article published on Friday about a touchy-feely meeting in Ft. Morgan makes it all sound so congenial, there must be more to the story or why were Justice Department mediators called in?

Members of the Morgan Area Ministerial Alliance and their congregations sat down with some local Somali refugees, as well as some Somali representatives from around the state, on Monday to try to bridge the communication gap. [What gap?  I thought everything was peachy in Ft. Morgan?–ed]

It was an effort to help immigrants and the community to come together, to understand each other and to work on issues that may bother either side, said Brenda Zion, executive director of OneMorgan County, a group which works to help immigrants adapt to their new land and helps the welcoming community to understand the newcomers.  [Who is not understanding the newcomers?-ed]

“Facilitators” from the US Justice Department—trying to keep a lid on something?

On hand were representatives of the Community Relations Servcie, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

CRS is not a law enforcement agency but a “peacemaker” organization that helps communities deal with conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color and national origin. It was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, said Philip Arreola, regional director of CRS for the Rocky Mountain Region.

CRS helps communities develop mutual understandings and agreements as alternatives to coercion,violence or litigation, and to take proactive measures to prevent ethnic or racial tension, he said.

Essentially, it is a mediation agency which helps deal with cases involving changing community demographics, hate crimes, demonstrations and emotionally charged issues, Arreola said.

“We are mediators,” said Christopher “Kit” Chalberg, a conciliation specialist for CRS. “We are facilitators.”

We got that, you are mediators (facilitators, peacemakers), but why are you there if Ft. Morgan has been so welcoming?

For all of our posts on Ft. Morgan, and there are  more than I thought, go to the Ft. Morgan archive, here.

HONOR KILLING?   I hadn’t checked on the status of the Ft. Morgan Abdi murder from last fall in some time, so while visiting the Ft. Morgan Times I learned that not much has happened.  The trial is scheduled for June.  However, I did learn one important fact that may confirm my suspicions—the victim was the step sister of the murderer.  Sure sounds like an honor killing to me!  (see post coming next).  By the way, not a peep about the murder in the peacemaker meeting I see.

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